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Archive for June, 2007

Everybody Had One–But Will You Admit It?

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Like most I am very fond of my childhood. I can remember getting home from school and in light speed ripping off my clothes, tossing them anywhere and putting on play clothes to go out and play games or sports with my friends for hours at a time. Those were the days. Not a worry in the world. At night I would watch TV. I remember watching plenty of sitcoms and listening to great songs with a fantastic beat on the radio. By the way, I still listen to those songs!

Teenage heartthrobs back then ranged from pop stars like David Cassidy, Leif Garret, Davy Jones or TV stars like Susan Dey, Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Jaclyn Smith, Maureen McCormick.

Ok I’m about to let the cat out of the bag and share with you the person I had a crush on. As a kid, growing up in Massachusetts I thought Olivia Newton-John was the bomb! Ok I said it. I thought she was beautiful and talented and I absolutely loved her accent. I loved her music and thought she was great in Grease! As a 16 year old I would have loved to meet her and say hello although I am sure I would have been tongue-tied.

Ok – I said it.

I truly believe everyone has a crush as a teenager on someone on TV or a singer.

The real question is will you share it with us?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Interview with Jim Dawson

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

I remember going to my first American Marketing Association (AMA) meeting way back in 1992. I walked into the hotel, checked in and was greeted with a big “Hello! How are you doing?” The person I was speaking with was Jim Dawson, the President of the Boston Chapter of the AMA. He basically single handedly turned around a struggling chapter (the 5th largest chapter with over 700 members). He always had tremendous energy and passion for the AMA. For some crazy reason he asked me to volunteer, and a few years later I followed in his footsteps as President of the Boston AMA.

A lot has happened since 1992. I have moved around a little bit and ended up in a small town in Texas. As I was getting acclimated I went to a local chapter meeting of the AMA, and lo and behold I am greeted with a big “hello” mixed in with a “ya’ll” and I am surprised to see who else but Jim Dawson, the president-elect of the AMA Dallas Chapter. Although I agreed to help, I was a little smarter this time and won’t be following in his footsteps and becoming President.

This story is just another example of how we live in a small world.

Jim is a professional marketer. He is very client service oriented and is always willing to help out in any way possible.

I hope you enjoy this interview with Jim Dawson.

MD
You have been in the industry for 20+ years. How did you first get started?

JD
After being a journalism major in college and working at the Boston Globe, I decided the long, irregular hours of the newspaper business were not for me. I accepted an advertising position with Liberty Mutual Insurance where I wrote ad copy, assisted on the TV show, Outdoors with Liberty Mutual, helped plan special events for the company’s top clients and handled public relations for the Liberty Mutual Research Center and their tractor-trailer training school.

MD
What is the funniest experience you have ever had as a marketer?

JD
On a Friday afternoon, having a client, the CEO of a major corporation, ask me in our meeting how he would know when “the moment was right” to engage in a physical relationship with his “lady friend” over the upcoming weekend. Or running a major event for 5000 attendees at a major resort and not realizing there was a second “Jim Dawson” at the property at the same time. He was stunned when fruit baskets, wine and cheese, models calling about what to wear, asking about rehearsal times and more kept calling his room. We eventually met each other purely by accident when we got into the same elevator, at the same time, and the people I was with happened to mention my name.

Continue reading “Interview with Jim Dawson” »

The Time To Start Was Yesterday! Why Did It Take Me So Long To Figure That Out?

Monday, June 25th, 2007

I was reading USA Today recently and they had very disturbing story in the paper. No I am NOT referring to:

  • The War in Iraq
  • A corrupt politician
  • An athlete that was arrested… for something
  • A CEO who played games with financial numbers

I am sure all of those things were in the newspaper but I was referring to the article entitled “Generation Gap”. This was actually on the front page so hopefully lots of people read the article.

A few paragraphs into the article I read that:

“Nearly all additional wealth created in the USA since 1989 has gone to people 55 and older, according to Federal Reserve data. Wealth has doubled since 1989 in households headed by older Americans”.

To me that is very interesting. To me that is great for one segment of the population: 55 and older. To that segment I say congratulations. The problem is that I am not 55! Even though some have said I look older than that I am not even close!

In the article it stated “that income peaks at 57 and wealth tops out at 63” so clearly I have time to accumulate net worth. But the question I always ask myself and comment to others is you only have so much time. Whatever I did or didn’t save in my 20’s and 30’s is gone – in the past. I can never get that time back and frankly I would like to because I would do a number of things different. The new worth of the different age groups is getting much bigger and creating the “Generation Gap” that the article is titled.

In our backyard we have a small creek that floods after a big rain. After that a surge usually pushes 100 golf balls onto our property. Maybe it’s time I send the boys outside to sell the golf balls 3 for a dollar!

We have someone near and dear to our family named KBW (I will use only initials). She is a very sweet young girl who is starting her career. A twenty something girl who makes a lot more than I did at her age. We have a number of discussions about saving money and sending a certain amount into a mutual fund every month. Even though I consider myself pretty persuasive at times, I have come up short in this instance. We started a fund for her and made the initial $200.00 deposit and asked her to match it (sort of) with $50.00 of her own. Which she did but hasn’t really added much since. I wish I had the chance that KBW has now all over again – because saving more money now pays HUGE dividends in the future. Saving $50.00 extra a week or a month can literally add up to tens of thousands of dollars down the road.

The article had a very interesting chart:

AGE Median Net
Worth By Age
Group
Median Income
For Head of
Household
20 – 24 $3,900 $19,511
25 – 29 $12,030 $33,887
30 – 34 $42,800 $47,236
35 – 39 $48,940 $48,263
40 – 44 $98,000 $52,371
45 – 49 $136,190 $62,639
50 – 54 $152,101 $57,505
55 – 59 $249,700 $62,639
60 – 64 $244,000 $49,290
65 – 69 $179,000 $36,968
70 – 74 $207,400 $28,753
75 and older $163,100 $23,618

These numbers are based on inflation-adjusted 2004 dollars

Source: USA Today analysis of Federal Reserve Board Figures

The article mentions that most wealth accumulation happens rapidly and late in life – after the kids leave, when income is high, debts drop, 401(k) accounts fatten and home equity swells, according to Fed data. So for me there is still time…maybe…Since I had kids later than most and might be in a wheel chair or nursing home when they are in college I might have made a bigger mistake than I originally thought.

The article ends with this quote: “I have friends with every new gadget out there. They have a big house, two cars, college loans. I have no idea how they’re making it on their incomes.” The article also talks about how younger people might not look poor. They are so much deeper in debt than I was at their age – student loans, credit cards, mortgages, car loans – that their net worth isn’t where it could be at this point of their life.

KBW and others: don’t make the same mistake I made years ago. You have a big opportunity NOW – please make the most of it. You can save the “thank you” when you are 30 something and have lots of extra money for a down payment on a house or something else.

  • Does this tune sound familiar to you?
  • Have you found a way to get through to this generation?
  • Do you have any saving secrets that you are willing to share?

All of us look forward to hearing from you!

Reality TV Friend or Foe?

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

When I was growing up I used to watch television all the time. When I wasn’t outside playing with my friends I was parked in front of the TV watching anything. I used to pride myself on knowing what was on at all times. This was important back in the day because there was no cable station that helped you, so other than TV Guide or the newspaper, you were virtually on your own.

Life has changed. Now you can have literally hundreds of stations and pretty much watch whatever you want. As I was flipping around the other day I came across a number of reality shows that frankly I had never heard of. Yes I have heard of Survivor, American Idol, Last Comic standing, The Amazing Race and The Apprentice. There are so many other reality shows. Unfortunately I have never heard or watched many of them like: For Love or Money, Joe Schmo and The Rebel Billionaire.

It got me to sit and ponder: Am I a friend or foe of reality TV? First let me say I enjoy watching Survivor and in fact we have had a friendly office pool in the past. When I am watching Survivor I find myself thinking if I could do this or that or how I would handle a particular challenge that the contestants go through. And of course the obvious question is could I outwit, outsmart, out-play the other participants? Since I am not a good swimmer the chance of lasting past a week probably wouldn’t be that great!

I have never watched Amazing Race and frankly am VERY tired of The Apprentice. I do watch American Idol from time to time, but I am not hooked. If I am traveling or have something else to do I don’t mind missing any episodes.

A few weeks ago 3 out of the top 4 spots on the ratings were reality shows. American Idol had the top 2 and Dancing With The Stars occupied the 4th spot. Clearly a number of these shows are very successful!

  • Do you like reality TV?
  • What shows do you watch?
  • What shows do you wish would be cancelled?

Have any of these shows changed your life in anyway? Do you look at things a little differently since you have been watching reality TV?

I really look forward to your comments.

What Do You Give Someone Who Has Almost Everything?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

I am sure we all have friends or loved ones that you have no idea what to give them for a birthday gift. They seem to have everything, and nothing you could give them would be special enough. Yes, gift cards are very safe but a little too boring and not personal enough for many people.

I was struggling to figure out what gift I would give to a special person and frankly came up with something that I hope is appropriate. This person is intelligent, very business-oriented and tried to teach me many things.

His name Joel Dubrow – and he is my Father. A few days ago he celebrated his birthday and after days/weeks of trying to figure out what to give him, my gift is words – special words to me that everyone can read.

Dad:

  • Thanks for being there when I needed you growing up and continue to need you
  • Thanks for grounding me (I can’t believe I said that) when I was growing up to teach me a lesson and make me a better person
  • Thanks for sharing your business wisdom
  • Thanks for letting me make some wrong decisions and go off the beaten path
  • Thanks for supporting me when I moved around over the years for jobs in the research industry
  • Thanks for supporting my decision to not be an accountant (like you) and changed my major during my junior year
  • Thanks for teaching me how to treat people the right way
  • Thanks for sending me to an overnight sports camp when we really couldn’t afford it
  • Thanks for having a summer house on Cape Cod – those are some of my fondest memories to date!
  • Thanks for sending me to an out of state college and allowing me the opportunity of growing up real fast
  • Thanks for taking me to all of those Red Sox games and teaching me how to keep score
  • Thanks for being a great grandfather

Sometimes you never know what a person means to you until to take a step back. Sometimes you never realize how much a person can affect your life until a few years go by. I remember growing up and thinking how wrong my Dad was in a number of situations. Funny that years have to go by for me to realize he was right more than he was wrong.

I wonder if the same thing will happen with my kids…chances are they will.

Dad – thanks for everything!

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Email Is Great BUT Shouldn’t Be Used For…

Monday, June 18th, 2007

On a daily basis I probably get 200+ emails, probably more if I am not traveling. Email is great with so many things. Clearly it is a great communication device to keep in touch with your clients, staff, new business development team and the finance group if you need a quick answer. It is great for trying to nail down meetings with staff or clients that tend to be busy. Clearly it saves everyone who uses it effectively hours a day.

Not a week goes by that I don’t say or hear someone saying “What did we ever do without the Internet”. I am sure each of you have said or heard the same thing.

Over the past few months I have heard of two situations were companies have actually fired or downsized employees by sending them an email. At first I didn’t believe what I was hearing, but after doing a little research it was true. Companies are laying off their staff by sending out an email. To me that is so impersonal to notify a staff member that way, even if the person didn’t do a great job. In fact let me take it one step further and say the person did a horrible job. I still don’t believe they should be notified by a machine and then be asked to report to the cafeteria to receive further instructions. It just seems to me to be cold, callous and frankly has no place in today’s business world.

  • Do you agree?
  • Should the Web be used for this?
  • What else shouldn’t the Web be used for?

I look forward to your comments and thoughts.

My Favorite 1960’s Sitcom Is ______! What About Yours?

Friday, June 15th, 2007

I always love a good sitcom. I love to laugh, forget about life and watch a show that can poke fun at everyday situations. The definition of a sitcom is a combination of two words – Situation Comedy. I am sure at least a handful or two of readers didn’t know that. A sitcom is typically a thirty minute television stage comedy which can be a humorous drama based on situations that might arise in day-to-day life.

I can still recall growing up as a youngster (yes very young) in the 1960’s and watching a bunch of sitcoms. From time to time I will still channel surf looking for a good comedy. I remember getting dressed in the morning and catching 15 minutes of a show–I never had to watch it in its entirety because they were never that deep.

Here is a partial list of the sitcoms from the 1960’s.

Bewitched
F Troop
Family Affair
Get Smart
Gilligan’s Island
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Green Acres
Hogan’s Heroes
I Dream of Jeannie
The Lucy Show
McHale’s Navy
Mister Ed
My Three Sons
Petticoat Junction
The Addams Family
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Dick Van Dyke Show

A number of these were my favorites. If I had to narrow the list to one and only one I would go with Get Smart. The show debuted in 1965 and lasted until 1970. I still chuckle as Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 fight the bad guys every week and of course always won.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia’s write-up on Get Smart:

The series starred Don Adams as bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart, Agent 86. Barbara Feldon character (Agent 99) is never named; even after Smart married her, he (and everyone else) continued to always address her as “99”. Smart and 99 worked for CONTROL, a secret U.S. Government spy agency based in Washington, D.C. (123 Main Street). Together, the pair investigated and opposed various threats to the world while Smart’s bumbling caused complications. However, at each story’s climax, Smart never failed to save the day, typically thanks to his own dumb luck and 99’s competence. Looking on was the long-suffering Chief (played by Edward Platt), who was always addressed as “Chief”. The show was created by none other than Mel Brooks.

The nemesis of CONTROL was KAOS, and KAOS’s Vice President of Public Relations and Terror, Siegfried (Bernie Kopell), showed up often as Maxwell Smart’s opponent, or would-be assassin. Though on opposite sides, Max and Siegfried clicked personally, and spoke fondly of one another-even when trying to kill each other.

I still get a kick out of Hymie the Robot!

  • What shows did I leave off the list?
  • Did you have a favorite?
  • What sitcom brings back favorite memories of your childhood?

I look forward to reading your choices.

It’s All About Merrill! (No…Not THAT Merrill…THIS Merrill!)

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Based on the title of this posting you might have thought this was about me. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Last week I was in San Francisco for the MRA National board meeting and 50th anniversary conference. During that time I was fortunate to be around so many people who truly love this industry and profession.

I was fortunate to watch poetry in motion. I was fortunate to be around someone who never ceases to amaze me. I was honored to be in the presence of true greatness in running a board meeting. It is a privilege to have the same name as someone who has so much class, intelligence and heart as this lady has. The person I am speaking about and describing is Merrill Shugoll.

For the last year she was the president of the MRA. Here are a few of Merrill’s accomplishments.

Under her leadership the MRA:

  • Launched the new value-added membership structure
  • Exceeded the Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) goal and now has almost 1,000 people certified
  • Launched a virtual international chapter to better serve and learn from our colleagues abroad
  • Designed On-Demand Education to make learning more convenient for members
  • Launched the Exchange Evaluation Program (EEP) so that members can learn more about the business practices of clients and suppliers before working together
  • Launched new Affinity Programs for Members
  • Had over 1,000 people at the Annual conference – the highest attendance in years!

Wow!

Please know that everything she did was for one reason and one reason only – MRA members. Every decision and strategy was based on the membership and the industry.

For those of you who don’t know Merrill that well – in her spare time she is a wife, Mother, daughter-in-law, business executive and moderator. Merrill is very family-oriented, loves the arts and the research industry.

Every speech she has delivered is filled with passion, energy and meaningful words. Her comments Friday morning were so powerful that I actually got a little misty. At the end of her speech she thanked the members and the board. In reality, we should be thanking her for everything she has done and continues to do. We should be thanking Mark, Lianne, Cara, Joan and the rest of the Shugoll staff and family for supporting Merrill during her presidency and allowing her the opportunity to make a difference! Thanks for sharing her for the past few years and allowing us to see how special she is and admire what each of you sees everyday.

Thanks Merrill! This industry is so much better with your leadership and involvement.

Why Is This Item NOT In It’s Proper Place?

Monday, June 11th, 2007

There are so many things that don’t make sense to me, but this one might take the cake. Does this sound familiar:

  • It’s early in the morning and you are getting ready to take a shower
  • It is early, so you aren’t thinking clearly
  • You fight with the hot water controls to just get it right
  • You finally jump in and get ready to take a nice hot shower and you look for the shampoo

Your next reaction might be a 4 letter bad word or asking yourself why? (More on this in a minute. )

Unless you are a character from the Incredibles and can stretch your arms 10 feet, you know you are about to get out of the nice, hot shower and walk across the cold floor to get the little bottle of shampoo. You then scurry back into the shower praying that you don’t slip on the cold…now wet…floor.

Do you think that people who work in hotels think that I shampoo my hair in the sink? I don’t think so…So back to the why. Why does every hotel in the country put the shampoo right next to the sewing kit which is next to the q-tips which is next too the conditioner? WHY?

Here is a thought: Why not actually put the shampoo and conditioner in the shower, in the bath tub where 99.9% of the people are going to use it? I know it probably saves time for the hotel staff to line them up on the counter and in someone’s eyes it probably looks really nice, but for me I would just like to find those items in the shower.

For the record I usually am in a hotel every week during which time the only hotel that actually does put it in the shower is The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

I can only hope this is a trend that will spread across this great country.

Do you agree or am I crazy?

I look forward to your comments.

Can I Have This Dance?

Friday, June 8th, 2007

Close your eyes and pretend you are in a movie theatre. You are sipping a soda and eating popcorn and your foot is tapping away. You are smiling, enjoying the music and watching people dance. If you are like me, you are wishing you could dance like them. Here is a list of 10 dancing movies:

A Chorus Line (1985)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Fame (1980)
Fast Forward (1985)
Footloose (1984)
Flashdance (1983)
Saturday Night Fever (1978)
Shall We Dance (1937)
Singing in the Rain (1952)
The Jazz Singer (1980)

Which dancing movie do you like the best?

For me I will admit I love Travolta and Saturday Night Fever–great music, fantastic dancing and I can actually relate to my days in college when I actually went to Studio 54 (remember Kenny?)

I also love the Jazz Singer. I really enjoy Neil Diamond music and liked the story. And of course I enjoyed the cinematography in the water scene in Flashdance. But I think my favorite is……. Footloose. I love the story, the characters and I absolutely love the music. (Yes I have the CD and DVD and have a number of Kenny Loggins discs as well.)

What about you?

  • Do you have a favorite scene?
  • What dancing movies did I leave out?
  • What CD do you play over and over?

I look forward to your comments.